The Ten Minas

The Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

Jesus began His minstry proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This was His primary message — the kingdom of God, the rule of God’s grace, pushing into history and hearts. He proclaimed the kingdom, taught principles of kingdom living and told parables to illustrate the kingdom.

He told the parable of the Ten Minas prior to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, during the final days of His earthly ministry. He told it while He and the disciples were in Jericho, or possibly as they were leaving, starting out on the fifteen mile journey to the holy city. His purpose was to correct the false conception that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (19:11).

While passing through Jericho, Jesus had met a corrupt tax collector named Zacheus who was reborn spiritually through this encounter (19:1-10). His saving faith was evidenced in the complete reformation of his life (Luke 19:8). 

Following the salvation of Zacheus, Jesus had said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus had come offering salvation to Israel and though a few men and women had believed in Him and received Him as their Lord, the nation as a whole had rejected Him. Now He was moving toward Jerusalem where, in a few days, He would be arrested and put to death.

God’s saving act in the life of Zacheus was a demonstration of the presence of the true kingdom of God. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, not to overthrow Rome. His kingdom is coming in glory and power; it will be established across the earth at His second coming. But His kingdom is present now within the hearts of those who are submitted to His Lordship and it is in the midst of those gathered in His name (Luke 17:20,21). 

The kingdom of God is that dimension where God is ruling. It is a rule of grace, forgiving the guilty, raising up the down trodden and setting the captive free. It is entered spiritually through the supernatural event of spiritual rebirth as we repent of sin and place our faith in Christ, the holy Lamb of God. However, in Jesus’ day, the popular expectation of the Messiah was that He would overthrow Rome and establish His political kingdom on earth. No matter how often Jesus had attempted to correct this misconception, the people continued to misunderstand, so deeply ingrained was their false concept of the kingdom of God.

True, the angel said to Mary, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:32,33). Yes, Jesus will someday sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem and rule the earth but that rulership will not be handed to Him by a shouting mob. Earlier, when a crowd wanted to crown Him, Jesus removed Himself from them (John 6:15). The Lord will establish His rule on earth by His Father’s authority, not through people and not by political or military means. The way to the throne was the way of the cross.

Now as the Lord leaves Jericho and moves toward Jerusalem, anticipation was at an explosive level. The multitude in Jerusalem would soon be waving palm branches and shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”

They expected the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately (Luke 19:11). The word appearanaphaino — means to come in sight of something. It is the same word used in Acts 21:3 as Paul, sailing toward Israel, came in sight of Cyprus. The expectation of the people around Jesus was that the kingdom was in sight, on the horizon. 

However, when Jesus encountered Zacheus, though the man was an unjust tax collector, the Lord did not overthrow the Roman tax system. Rather, He redeemed a sinful tax collector. Yes, Christ will return someday and establish His justice on earth. But in His first advent He preached the gospel, forgave the guilty, healed the sick, cast out demons and died an atoning death for sinners. 

He established His kingdom in the hearts of those who turned from sin and turned to Him in faith. So, as we read in verse 11, the purpose of this parable was to correct the misunderstanding of the nearness of that someday, glorified kingdom and prepare the disciples for the delay between His first and second advents.

The nobleman in the story journeys to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then return (Luke 19:12). The nobleman represents Jesus whose journey to a distant country was through death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation to the right hand of the majesty on high. Jesus is now seated with the Father on His throne (Rev. 3:21), which speaks of shared authority with the Father. It is not that the Lord Jesus will be a King someday. He is now King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling over the universe with His Father.

The fact that the nobleman’s journey is to a distant country (19:12) implies a lengthy absence. Though he does not give a set time for his absence, he says that he will return.

Jesus also promised His return, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Later, as the disciples watched Jesus ascend to heaven, the angels promised His return “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

In this parable the nobleman called ten slaves and gave each of them one mina (Luke 19:13). The mina was a measure of money worth about one hundred days wages. The servants represent followers of Jesus and the minas represent the responsibilities given to disciples and the gifts, resources and empowerment necessary to fulfill those responsibilities. 

The number ten represents completeness. Ten slaves received a mina. This is a way of saying that all of Christ’s followers receive assignments, opportunities and resources whereby we may serve and glorify the Lord until He returns or until we go to be with Him. While it is true that not all are gifted in the same manner, it is surely true that we are all gifted in some way and all are sent out with the commission to proclaim salvation in Christ. (It is also true that all people are gifted with time and resource whereby they may glorify God. However, this parable is specifically in reference to those who claim to follow Jesus.)

On numerous occasions Christ exhorted His disciples to exercise and fulfill their ministries: “You did not choose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16).

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

The slaves are commanded to do business with their mina until their master returns (Luke 19:13). That is, be productive with the opportunities, assignments and resources which the Lord provides. It is understood that each slave will be held accountable for their work, as will we.


At this point, another group is introduced — the citizens of this kingdom who are not servants of the nobleman. They hate the nobleman and sent a delegation saying, We do not want this man to reign over us (Luke 19:14). We read of Jesus in John 1:11 that, He came to His own and those who were His own did not receive Him. We do not read of any offense which the nobleman gave to anyone. There was no motive for their hatred of him. In the same way, in John 15:25 Jesus said that He was hated without a cause. 

The rebels who rejected their ruler represent Israel, which, while demanding the death of Jesus, shouted to the Roman governor, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). But in a larger sense they represent all of humanity who have turned from God in rebellion. They also represent the governments of the world which, seduced by Satan, exercise authority as if there is no King ruling the universe to whom they are accountable. 

In Psalm 2, the Psalmist gives voice to the arrogance of the kings of the earth who take counsel against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us’ (Ps. 2:2,3). Indeed, Satan boasted to Jesus that he could give Him the kingdoms of the world, so pervasive is his rule in the hearts of rebels (Luke 4:5,6).

Notice that even those people who hated their ruler were still called citizens (19:14). God is still Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all life and whether the rebels of the world recognize this fact or not, all are citizens in a universe ruled by a sovereign God.

Eventually the nobleman returned after he received his kingdom (19:15). The hatred and opposition of the rebels neither prevented his return nor the establishing of his kingdom. He fulfilled his purpose regardless of the opposition. So it will be with Jesus. At the end of the age He will return and establish His kingdom on earth. Neither human governments nor principalities of darkness, neither the armies of man nor armies of demons will prevent God’s purpose. The Lord will fulfill what the Lord has ordained.

In Psalm 2:4-11, after we read of the kings of the earth conspiring to rebel against the Lord and His Anointed, we then read, He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ I will announce the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have fathered You. Ask it of Me, and I will certainly give the nations as Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ Now then, you kings, use insight; let yourselves be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling.

Let us say this again — neither human governments nor principalities of darkness will prevent the return of Jesus and the establishing of His kingdom on earth. But that’s not the end of the story — there will be an accounting when He returns.

Having received the kingdom, the king then called his slaves to give an account of their stewardship while he was absent (Luke 19:15). Whether they were prepared or unprepared for their master’s return, whether they had been faithful or unfaithful, all were called to stand before him and give an account for their stewardship.

So it will be for the servants of Christ. We will stand before Him and give an account of our discipleship, followed by our King’s commendation and reward if we have been faithful.

In the parable of the landlord (Matt. 20:1-16), we see that in one sense, reward to the faithful is equal to all. All who place their faith in Christ are rewarded with forgiveness of sin, resurrection and everlasting fellowship with God in His presence. 

But there is also a reward that is unique or particular to our service. The Apostle Paul reminds us, But each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers … each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward (I Cor. 3:8,9a,13,14). 

Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). This parable in Luke 19 is about the particular reward given to each follower of Christ, based on our faithful use of the resources and opportunities that were unique to each of us.

The first slave stepped forward and said, “Master, your mina has made ten minas more” (Luke19:16). The faithful slave is commended and rewarded with authority over ten cities (19:17). He used one mina, about a hundred days wages, to earn ten minas, about a thousand days wages. He did well but the reward is far greater than his service because this is a generous master. So is our Lord, whose reward to the faithful is far greater than our service to Him.

The second slave gained five minas for his master (19:18). His accomplishments were not as great as the first slave. But he too is given authority in the kingdom that far exceeds his labor (19:19). What an accurate picture of our Lord who lavishes grace and blessing upon us now and in eternity. And let’s make sure we understand that the master does not compare one servant to the other. Reward is based on individual faithfulness.

Notice that the reward for those who serve the king is increased opportunity to serve, a larger sphere of service — faithful with ten minas, given authority over ten cities; faithful with five minas, authority over five cities. It is the same with followers of Christ. Those who are faithful in exercising kingdom responsibility in this age are given more responsibility now and will be invited to share our King’s rule in His kingdom in the age which will never end. We are laying up treasures in heaven and that treasure is the opportunity to live forever as royal priests, sharing in the administrative authority of the King. Scripture affirms that we will be invited to rule with our King in His kingdom: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12).  

“And you have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:10).  

“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).

“He who overcomes, I will grant to sit down with Me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

To His disciples at the last supper, Jesus said, “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30).

Understand that the exercise of our discipleship, while having great value now as we serve our Lord in sharing the good news of the kingdom, also holds value for the age to come. Our work for the King now is a training school for our work in the age to come. Just as the servants in the parable were rewarded with opportunity far greater than that which they had formerly enjoyed, so it will be for us. Our responsibilities in the age to come will be far greater than those which we now exercise but based on our faithfulness now in this age.

We do not all produce the same fruit in the kingdom of God. We do not all have the same gifts and opportunities. But each faithful servant of Christ will be rewarded for faithful service and that reward will be lavished upon us in far greater measure than our service. What a thought — we will rule and reign with Christ, sharing creative, righteous labor with our Creator / Redeemer across the universe for ever and ever.

Now another slave stepped forward to give an account of his stewardship, quite different from the other two (Luke 19:20). This difference is revealed in the word another. We would expect the Greek word allos which means another of the same kind. But this word is heteros from which we derive the English word heterodox (which is an opinion or doctrine contrary to the traditional or accepted standard). Heteros means another of a different kind.

So this is not a servant like the other two. He is another kind of servant — unfaithful.

Notice that the unfaithful servant addressed the returning nobleman as master (also translated lord, 19:20). So he recognizes the sovereignty of his king but has not honored his kingship. He confesses that he hid his resources in a handkerchief and refused the opportunity to serve and glorify his master. Hiding the mina in a handkerchief is a way of burying his gift. He represents those who bury their God-given time and talents within the tomb of conformity to their culture or fear of hostility to their gifting. He represents those who bury their giftings within the tomb of their own ambitions, appetites and desires, enjoying a life of self-serving labor while others labor for the kingdom. 

He was not motivated by love for his master or a desire to bring him glory nor by a desire to advance his master’s kingdom. His motive was fear of his master, I was afraid of you (19:21).

He accuses his master of being harsh and dishonest, calling him a thief, You take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow (19:21). His fear derives from a misunderstanding of the king’s character. He does not even know his master.

What he is really doing is justifying his self-serving lifestyle by maintaining a false understanding of his master. In questioning his master’s integrity and honesty, he is giving himself an excuse to be unfaithful. This is what the citizens who hate the king say, “I don’t worship or serve God because He is so unjust and cruel. Look at all the evil in this world.” God is not committing any evil but by maintaining a false concept of God, people give themselves an excuse to avoid giving glory to God, give themselves an excuse to spend their lives serving their own appetites and desires with the resources and talents which God has given them.

The master reveals the servant’s true heart, calling him a worthless slave and asking, Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? (19:22). It’s as if he is saying, “You know this? You know that I am a dishonest, ruthless man? Where is your evidence?” The evidence is to the contrary. The other slaves, who served their master faithfully and fruitfully, made no such accusation. Their dedication to the nobleman is a testimony to his integrity.

The master then rebukes the slave for not investing the mina in a way that would have at least generated a small gain (19:23). In fact, the slave was too preoccupied with his own concerns and career goals to give even minimal attention on behalf of his master.

This is not a believing follower of the nobleman and not one of those citizens who hate him. Even when we are unfaithful and unfruitful, Jesus would never call one of His followers worthless. We are of precious value to our Lord. And though we sometimes misunderstand our Lord and serve him poorly, our primary motive is not fear, defensiveness or self concern. Our primary desire is to worship, serve and glorify our Lord.

So if this is not a faithful servant of the nobleman and not one of the citizens who hates him, who is this? He is a servant who does not know his master at all. He is not merely unfaithful and unfruitful. He is unfaithful and unfruitful because he does not know his master. Is it possible to believe in the existence of God and yet be unfaithful and unfruitful? Yes, many people believe there must be some divine being but never seek to know this God or submit to His Lordship, wrapping their mina in the handkerchief of apathy. 

Then there are many others who serve false gods, wrapping their mina in the handkerchief of deception. Others serve the god of self, using their giftings to serve their own appetites, wrapping their mina in the handkerchief of their self-serving ambition. But this is someone who calls the nobleman, “Master,” and yet does not know him. Is it possible to call Jesus Lord and not know Him? Is it possible to receive a trusted commission from Him, labor for Him, and not understand Him? Is it possible to serve the Redeemer and not be unredeemed?

Yes, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23).

The worthless slave was serving a master whom he did not know. He was then relieved of his resources and responsibilities (19:24,25). His mina was given to a faithful servant with these cautionary words, I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away (Luke 19:26).

This is a truth which we plainly see in the natural world: that which we exercise will grow, increase. Responsibility accepted leads to greater responsibility, now and in eternity. But the opposite is also true. That which we neglect is eventually lost. The well kept garden bears fruit. The neglected garden falls into decay and weeds. So with our talents, resources and opportunities. Talent ignored diminishes. Time misspent ebbs away. Responsibility refused is taken by another.

Since we know that the nobleman represents Jesus and the faithful servants are His disciples, the worthless slave must be a false disciple. He represents those who do not know the Lord at all and spend their lives spending their giftings on their own self. And he represents those who are somewhat familiar with the Lord and have made an outward profession of faith without the inner substance of repentance and saving faith. Some of these may even have been entrusted by the church with responsibilities, resources and opportunities but they do not know the Lord in a redeemed, personal, intimate sense. They are so distant that they misunderstand the character of the merciful Savior who came to seek them and to save. They misunderstand the generosity of the Savior who gifted them so that they could glorify Him.

This false disciple may spend his life outside the church or in the church but not in the kingdom. Self concerned, ignorant of his Lord’s true heart, he is the antithesis of a true worshipper. He is not lost in wonder, love and praise. He is merely lost.

But even the unredeemed will be held accountable for the time, the talent, the resources and opportunities that God gave them to bring Him glory. The artisan who exercised creative gifts for sefl glory but did not know the Lord, the gifted business person who served only greed and ambition as a deal-maker / power-broker but did not know the Lord, the bishop and the priest who chanted the rituals and carried on the business of the church but did not know the Lord — all will be held accountable. The fact that they do not know the Lord is no excuse. The truth is, they could have known Him, could have served Him but chose to exclude Him from their lives, chose to use their opportunity and resource for self glory and personal ambition. The Apostle Paul reminds us that their end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things (Phlpns. 3:19)

The worthless slave is not invited to rule over regions of the kingdom with his master. The absence of reward in the kingdom reveals that the servant will not be present in that kingdom. How sad this man’s eternity. He had the same opportunities as the faithful but he knew not the hour nor the season. Rightly does Isaiah exhort us, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6).

The rebels who did not want the nobleman to reign over them are executed (Luke 19:27) and we may suppose that the unfaithful slave was among them, for he too was a rebel at heart. This execution of the unfaithful and the rebellious is a representation of the far more terrible fate of those who reject the Lordship of Christ, These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thes. 1:9). 

They had the opportunity to know and serve the Lord in time and eternity but chose to reject this opportunity. Now, they will be excluded from the presence of God in the torment of hell forever, cast into the outer darkness which they chose in rejecting light. In bold contrast are the faithful, who enter the kingdom of their Lord where they will rule and reign with Him forever, shining like the stars of heaven.

Study Questions

1. You have been given a mina — time, giftings, opportunity, resource with which to glorify the Lord. How would you describe your mina?

2. You will be held accountable and rewarded. In what ways is this motivating to you?